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Article/journal, East Asia, Migration & borders, Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School

Views on immigration in Japan: Identities, interests, and pragmatic divergence

This paper explores how material-based and identity-based concerns influence views on immigration in Japan. Our analysis, based on in-depth interviews with 28 local residents and public and policy opinion leaders conducted in 2015 in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, found widespread opposition to immigration with the exception of the immigration of care workers. General opposition to immigration stemmed from identity-based concerns, while openness to and support for the immigration of care workers was related to material-based concerns. Our findings suggest that while the identities approach to understanding anti-immigration sentiment has explanatory power in Japan, material-based concerns can, when sufficiently strong, override identity-based concerns in a phenomenon we call ‘pragmatic divergence’.